Our ambassador Jordan decided to trade in life in a Sprinter for life in the Swiss Alps – a trailbuilder's dream come true. Here's his report from Helvetia:
“Grüezi (Hello)” I exclaimed as I rolled up to a group of hikers on a rainy October afternoon as I made my way down from a day of work in the Swiss Alps above Davos, Switzerland. The clouds hung low and fall colors glistened on the surrounding trees and grasses. I’d narrowly missed my window of sunshine as the looming clouds quickly drifted into the narrow valley and the once blue sky was engulfed in a late day storm system.
I was working as a contractor for a trail business in Switzerland to help improve trail experiences for mountain bikers in this legendary trail mecca. I was excited for the work, but also to experience the culturally rich mountain lifestyle. Most of all, I looked forward to riding historic trails and then consuming all the cheese, chocolate, and espresso this beautiful country had to offer.
After working throughout southern Swiss Alps for more than 60 days, I’ve compiled some of my favorite places and experiences in hopes of sharing this smorgasbord of trails, great food, and amazing experiences.
Mountain Biking the Swiss Alps
Switzerland is unlike any other place I’ve ever been on a mountain bike. Rugged mountains, lush valleys, cable cars from most villages and other endless amenities offer an array of experience opportunities. To top it off, the country offers a free database* highlighting the singletrack trail routes crisscrossing the country, making riding, touring, and exploring fun yet daunting at the same time. Many of these singletrack routes are old mining, farming or trade routes that have been slowly adopted as recreational routes although many still benefit the surrounding farming operations. The trails are spectacularly diverse, with everything from steep technical descents to mellow grassy doubletrack traversing through the beautiful valleys.
My time in Switzerland was spent mostly in the canton (state) of Graübunden based in the southwestern corner of the state bordered by Italy and Austria. This area is home to ski towns Davos, St. Moritz, and Lenzerheide, among many other amazing historic villages. When I had time off I gravitated toward Davos, due in part to its amazing hotel mountain bike packages that offer free transit in town. It quickly became a favorite of mine after a great experience at the Davos Enduro2 event, which provided one of the most scenic and enjoyable race experiences I’ve ever participated in.
With so many incredible trails to ride, it's difficult to choose a favorite. In Davos, the Alps Epic Trail that begins from the top of Jakobshorn certainly tops the list.
Switzerland not only offers an exceptional offering of scenic, world-class singletrack, the amenities make for a truly relaxing and enjoyable trip. Public transit around the country is extremely easy to use and can get you to even the remotest of places, whether train, cable car, or bus, getting around once there is a breeze.
If culinary decadence appeals to you, the Swiss Alps are a goldmine. Each village has its own unique offerings, whether it’s cheese, wine, beer, or the extensive assortment of baked goods. Nüsstorte (essentially a dense version of our pecan pie) is a buttery, nut-filled specialty torte from the Graubünden region of Southern Switzerland. It became my go-to ride food for days out in the mountains.
No matter where you choose to visit on your mountain bike adventure in Switzerland the massive Alps coupled with the unique culture, welcoming people, and decadent local delicacies will surely fill your brain and your photo book with many lasting memories as it did mine.
Thanks to Jordan for the report. Have you dreamed of exploring the legendary trails of Switzerland? Check out this awesome interactive map to get a few ideas. In the meantime, stay dry – but not too dry. We'll see you out there.*
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